A season-opening date with defending state champion Emanuel County Institute seemed like a high hurdle for Metter, but the Tigers pulled one of the biggest upsets of the first week of the high school season with a 21-20 victory last Saturday at the Erk Russell Classic.
Key to the surprising win was the offensive efficiency of Metter receiver Justin Parrish. The junior returned kicks, caught passes and took handoffs for a combined 113 yards of total offense. More importantly, he found the end zone for all three of the Tigers’ touchdowns.
“We were going pretty good,” Parrish said. “We scored quick and I think that gave us a lot of confidence going through the game.”
Parrish and his teammates shook off a lopsided loss to ECI in the 2012 opener and controlled most of the game before holding off a late Bulldog rally.
Metter is off this week, but — due to the large size of Region 2-AA — now face nine important region games to make up the rest of its regular season schedule.
“We’re excited about the win, but we need to keep going,” Parrish said. “All the rest of these games are important. We need to get to work preparing for the region schedule.”
It isn’t easy trying to lead a team away from the sting of a few rough seasons. It’s even tougher when you’re the only senior on the squad.
After plenty of losses and a high attrition rate over the last two seasons, the Portal softball team is much improved this season. A big reason for the success is senior third baseman Kenya Huff, who stuck out the lean years and now serves as a driving force in a suddenly potent Lady Panther batting order.
“Sometimes I wish I wasn’t the only (senior),” Huff said. “But I’m ok with it. I just try to do my best and help some of the younger girls.”
Huff is quiet and reserved, but her bat speaks loudly.
At last week’s Battle in the Boro at Mill Creek Regional Park. Portal had its best showing in years. The Panthers scored eight or more runs in three of their four games with Huff knocking in 12 runs over the course of the tournament.
With region play on the horizon more offense like that could lead to some meaningful late-season games in Portal.
“We’re excited,” Huff said. “I think we can do a lot better this season and I know that we’ll be looking to win all of those region games.”